The Ottawa Senators haven't done much in the first month of the season to change the perception they are embarking upon an extended rebuilding project.
But the New York Rangers' outlook might be sunnier than originally imagined -- if the last two games are any indication.
The Rangers will look to win their third straight game Monday night when they host the Senators in the opener of a two-game homestand.
Both teams played on the road Saturday, when the Rangers edged the Nashville Predators 2-1, while the Senators fell to the Boston Bruins 5-2.
The victory over the Predators provided further encouragement to the Rangers, who were coming off a 4-1 victory over another perennial contender, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Tuesday night. The back-to-back wins came on the heels of a 7-4 loss to the Bruins on Oct. 27, in which head coach David Quinn criticized New York's effort and questioned the ability of his players to handle adversity.
The Rangers, who have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, still have a long way to go, but Quinn hopes a foundation is beginning to form.
"We all felt very good about what happened against Tampa," Quinn told reporters following the win over the Predators. "A complete 180 compared to what was going on against the Bruins, but it was a different feel. I was optimistic and felt pretty good about what we were going to see tonight. I just thought it was a continuation of what we did against Tampa."
The Senators, who have the fewest points in the NHL, will look to continue the progress they've made over the last four games, during which Ottawa has alternated wins over the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks with losses to a pair of Eastern Conference powers, the Bruins and New York Islanders.
The game against the Bruins was the first since Oct. 27 for the Senators, who were pleased with the work they put in during the unofficial bye week and hope to see it yield benefits during a stretch in which Ottawa will play five games in eight days.
"We've had some good practices that have given us a chance to work on some little details that we still want to improve in our game," Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau told reporters. "We're just excited because it's been a week of practice, and we like to play games way more than practicing."
The Senators will take the ice Monday with a sense of relief after learning rookie right winger Scott Sabourin should be fine after being knocked out in a collision along the boards with Bruins right winger David Backes. Sabourin was diagnosed with a broken nose and was expected to be released from the hospital Sunday.
Alexandar Georgiev will draw his third straight start for the Rangers over future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist. Georgiev earned the win Saturday by stopping 32 shots. He is 3-2-1 this season with a 2.27 goals-against average and .933 save percentage.
The Senators, who play at the Islanders on Tuesday night, are likely to split the next two games between top goalie Craig Anderson and backup Anders Nilsson. Anderson took the loss Saturday after recording 27 saves.
--Field Level Media
Rangers aim to continue surge vs. Senators
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